Assessing the Impact of Special Collections


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RLG Programs webinar, Assessing the Impact of Special Collections, Merrilee Proffitt and Jennifer Schaffner, 14 August 2007. Presentation followed by discussion.

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  • Merrilee and I have noticed an escalating interest among the RLG Partnership in tracking what’s going on in rare books, manuscripts and archives. We all wish we had a benchmark to measure the impact of EAD. We wish we knew more about the use and the usefulness of online information about special collections. In this seminar, Merrilee and I will not present a plan – we don’t have the answers. It’s more of a discussion section. We’re more interested in airing ideas and surfacing issues about metrics in special collections. Is there a way forward? In this hour, we’ll set out a summary of work that has been done, and work underway. Most of the time is set aside for comments, questions and discussion. We have at least one special guest. Beth Yakel has called in from a conference on – assessment – where she’s presenting her research in an hour or so (if you can catch a quick flight to Seattle).
  • Assessing the Impact of Special Collections

    1. 1. Assessing the Impact of Special Collections Merrilee Proffitt Jennifer Schaffner RLG Programs “ webinar” 14 August 2008
    2. 2. How we arrived at this issue: Annual meeting photos/“What are they doing in there?”
    3. 3. ARL statistics Reference Queries Total Circulation
    4. 4. <ul><li>“ Statistics are a sort of fetish.   </li></ul><ul><li>We think of statistics as facts that we discover, not as </li></ul><ul><li>numbers we create.” </li></ul><ul><li>--Joel Best </li></ul>
    5. 5. All ARL reference with full-time students REFERENCE Special collections at a large public university East-coast IRLA West-coast IRLA
    6. 6. REFERENCE QUESTIONS ARL statistics at that same private university Special collections at a private university Email Visit Phone Mail Fax Total Requests
    7. 7. East-coast IRLA” CIRCULATION Independent special collections at a public university All ARL total circulation to full-time students
    8. 8. Southwestern state university Midwestern flagship university ARL institution the ARL’s own special collection West-coast public university Circulation
    9. 9. Over the course of three weeks, the Digital Collections site received over 2,100 hits from one blog post. Ann Lally | University of Washington Libraries
    10. 10. Now is the time! <ul><li>In the United States… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>MPLP / Greene-Meissner: pressure to “pick up the pace” of processing (or shift processing to point of demand) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Funding programs for “hidden collections” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Everywhere.. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More materials visible through increased cataloging efforts, migration from paper to online systems, digitization efforts large and small. </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. “Building a culture of assessment” <ul><li>Archival Metrics project </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Research projects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Toolkits to evaluate qualitative measures (online and in person) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Specifically, ROAM (Repository of Archival Metrics) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“…an experiment in establishing performance measures specifically for archives and special collections and in creating a repository of archival metrics that can be for benchmarking.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Our “mini survey” results Yes / no / want to (%) (37 responses) Reasons for collecting <ul><ul><li>73 / 8 / 19 </li></ul></ul>Improve archival / special collections functions <ul><ul><li>27 / 57 / 16 </li></ul></ul>Intellectual property/legal rights <ul><ul><li>81 / 5 / 14 </li></ul></ul>Improve archival / special collections management <ul><ul><li>89 / 5 / 5 </li></ul></ul>Motivation to better serve user <ul><ul><li>89 / 3 / 8 </li></ul></ul>Reasons pertaining to larger institution
    13. 13. What do we want or need to do? <ul><li>Paul Courant – What special collections need are champions, not statistics. </li></ul><ul><li>However….seeing where you can improve, providing excellent access to collections and service around collections will beget champions. </li></ul><ul><li>“Just do it”? – collect information on an hoc basis </li></ul><ul><li>Build from what we have to a shared understanding? </li></ul><ul><li>Establish (or build on) shared measures? </li></ul>